Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Times roundtable, it's the Sunday paper, don't expect much

Once again, an all night marathon at The Third Estate Sunday Review leads to them, thankfully, coming over here after so we can knock out the New York Times quickly. Betty and Cedric did not participate last Sunday which had some members wondering if they weren't invited? Betty and Cedric have church on Sunday morning's. They're usually done by two their time and in bed. At which point, last minute editing is done and usually Ava and I (C.I.) use that time to do our TV review so that Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix can participate in the editorial if they want to.

**Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and myself, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of both The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. **
Alll of us would have been done by two-thirty their time and in bed but nothing wanted to post.

We'll start with Kat and then everyone will jump in at will.

Kat: Skip the arts section. There's nothing in it but ads. So let's address the issue that has pissed Mike and I off, and I believe Jess as well. Bono's story. It's the cover story of the Times Sunday Magazine and it is hogwash. It's written by a fellow named James Traub who doesn't know anything about anything other than the United Nations. The story is embarrassing.

C.I.: How so?

Kat: Who wrote "Silver & Gold?"

C.I.: Bono and U2 is the credit currently though the credit differed originally, why?

Kat: From the article:

Should he ever want to mortify himself utterly, Bono need only cue up the
incantation at the end of his 1987 song "Silver and Gold": "This is a song about
a man . . . who's sick of looking down the barrel of white South Africa. A
man who has lost faith in the peacekeepers of the West while they argue . .
. Am I buggin' ya? I don't mean to bug ya."

C.I.: He says 1987?

Kat: He does.

Jim: That's important because.

C.I.: The song's not from 1987. The song's from 1985. It appears, sung by Bono with, I believe Ron Wood & Keith Richards performing the music, on the Sun City album -- "I ain't gonna' play Sun City, Sun City/ I ain't gonna' play Sun City . . ." Basic fact checking would have revealed the song's date. There are other problems with it, including that it's later credited, the music, to U2. Some reading the article will think, "'His' song?" And they're right to think that. But there are so many problems with what Kat read. It's the case of a know nothing thinking he's a know it all. He may think music is something minor but he's the one who decided to write about it. If he can't get his facts straight, maybe he should stick to writing about the United Nations and not valentines to his buddy Bono. That the Times magazine, which prides itself on proofing more than the paper, allowed that to make it into print is embarrassing. Every reporter and editor for the paper should be saying, "1987! Nah, nah, nah" to them all week. And the ass better not try to weasel out of it with "I'm talking about the recording." Grammy's give best record for a track recorded. They give best song for a song written. It requires a printed correction and the attitude behind it needs addressing as well -- an attitude on the part of people who feel they are slumming by covering certain topics so research isn't necessary.

Kat: But no one higher up at the paper knows music. That's why they make all the mistakes they make.

Jim: You're really mad about this.

C.I.: I'm not mad that a mistake was made, several mistakes. They can be noted with a correction. I'm mad at the attitude that allows these mistakes to be made repeatedly. In this case it's "Oh that's music, we don't need to check it out" said in a prissy in Paul Lynde voice. Yeah, you do. No one's forcing you to cover it. You're deciding to. With your decision to cover it comes the responsibility of attempting to be accurate. This could have been fact checked in several minutes but it wasn't a priority and it wasn't important because it was "just music." If I mispell a Times' writer's name wrong, even if I'm trashing the piece, I have heard from them. "You spelled my name wrong!" Often times without noting where. As though there's only one entry at the site. If someone pulled that with their paper, they'd be asked to tell where the error occurred, or they'd be ignored. They value how they're credited, they just don't take the time to care about others.
It's an above it all attitude that goes beyond music, it's why they make mistakes like they did on the Weinstein in 2004, and touches on all entertainment coverage. No one's forcing them to do it and this attitude of "It's not imporant, it's just entertainment" is one of the reasons they are having such a hard time getting their footing in California. It's noticed outside the paper, it's seen as them looking down their noses. That's why people aren't very forgiving of their coverage since they started attempting to cover the entertainment industry in California and they need to seriously address this problem because they know they have an issue with advertising. They can maintain this attitude that it's not important, but it will only hurt them. Walk on, before I get really mad.

Dona: Well, this may not help, I grabbed the book section. Where you will find yet another book containing text previously printed in the paper and here it is reviewed by the paper in a full page review.

C.I.: Good Lord. Can the paper stop pushing their own writers? Who reviews that nonsense?

Dona: Alan Wolfe.

Jim: "For the record," a stream of curse words are not being included in this transcript.

C.I.: These are the kind of things that make me wish I hadn't made this a work environment safe site. I would love to let fly on the know nothing who knew nothing about David Brock's book. The one who slammed David Brock for not knowing that Chris Matthews was against the war when Brock, in fact, writes that in the book that Wolfe was supposed to be reviewing?

Ty: You know your bylines.

C.I.: On that, the review is notorious within the community. I've probably read hundreds of e-mails on that since The Common Ills started up. So let's be clear here. The Times pays someone to review a book. They turn in a review where they criticize an author for not addressing an issue that is in fact addressed in the book. And yet, they turn around and hire this person who may not have read the book for the first assignment, or else didn't read it closely enough, or else lied, or else just can't retain what he read. That is crap. He was hired to review books, Brock was only one [book, there are several reviewed in the "New Pamphleteers] in his lame ass review, and he couldn't do that job, he wasn't up to it. There needs to be accountability. This wasn't a mistake or a typo. This was a case of someone not doing the work they were hired for. That should keep you from being hired to review a book again.
But the Times never corrected the mistake. You can go to the review today, I think it's called "The New Pamphleteers" or some such nonsense, and you'll still see the mistake. They should be embarrassed. People should boo and hiss Alan Wolfe on his campus. They should say, "Hey professor, you're so big and mighty on ethics and religion but you took money without working for it!" There was not an excuse for the mistake to make it into print. The man obvioulsy didn't read the book. He probably skimmed it, and probably the others he was reviewing as well, and he made a HUGE mistake. Readers of the paper complained repeatedly. The Times never corrected the mistake. Again, you can pull up the review, they're free of charge at the web site, and you can see that the mistake still stands without a correction. They were told, the corrections dept. was repeatedly told, Okrent was informed repeatedly. Members have forwarded countless e-mails on they sent to the paper on this. The paper has had no interest in correcting their mistake. They should be ashamed and embarrassed. And I'm sorry but David Brock needs to do a Media Matters thing on that. He needs to demand a correction. Until he does, the paper won't correct it. They'll continue to ignore the readers. If David Brock, the author, points out, as we've done here in December, the page that Chris Matthews and there's another one, maybe Pat Buchanan, appear on, and that Wolfe got it wrong, the paper will correct it. Until then they are happy to repeatedly ingore multiple complaints by readers over this issue while maintaing that they have a new policy with regards to corrections and getting praise, mind you, for their new openess to corrections.

Jess: Okay, well I'm going to pretend like Todd S. Purdum doesn't have a cover story on the Week In Review section.

C.I.: Good because between Kat's finding and Dona's I need a bottle of aspirin, Excedrin Tension Headache, and a handful of Tylenols. Rebecca, talk about the men's fashion thing you grabbed.

Rebecca: Well, they go with Joaquin Phoenix as their cover boy but the photos take pains to hide his scar. I think everyone knows he has it. I don't know whom the photographer or the paper thinks they're protecting. I also don't know why in "Men's Fall Fashion 2005" it was needed for a full page ad of a woman's naked back to be run. They do a spread entitled "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle" and I've never seen a group of uglier young men. In uglier clothes. Including one sweater that is so ugly no one would even use it as a bath mat if it was the only thing in the house and they needed to take a shower. This sweater, I'll also note, is worn off one shoulder as though Jennifer Beals popularized a "rock look" for men in Flashdance. I can't figure out the caption on a page in "Mad Togs and Englishmen." It reads ""Fashion Editor: Allan Kennedy." If that means the photo of the aged man in low slung jeans and shirtless is the fashion editor, that certainly explains the fashion disasters that have appeared for two weeks now in this paper. A hint, your pecs sag and you're too old for the outfit you wear. It doesn't look cool, it doesn't look sexy. You look like a homeless man. The only totally do-able man appears in the Supima cotton ad. This is what Matt Lauer would look like if Lauer weren't bald and ugly. The guy in the Macy & Bloomingdale's 2 (x)ist underwear ad was sexy until I noticed his hairy legs. That's not a problem; however, they're very hairy and it's obvious that he must wax his chest and his stomach. As I've stated before, shaving legs is murder for women. We're really not in the mood to go out with a man who finds time to remove more hair than we do.

Jess: How do you know he doesn't just have hairy legs.

Rebecca: Sweet, innocent Jess. When you've seen as many naked men as I have, you learn that when a man's legs are that hairy, that thick with hair as they run up to his crotch, his chest is not usually as hairless as a new borns. In addition, he usually has hair below his bellly button. The model doesn't. He looks like a freshly plucked chicken from above the groin. It's a turn off, even if you can make out, I'm trying to keep this as clean as possible, the head of his unit including the slit through which urine passes. That better have passed the "work safe" standard because I could really go to town at my own site. Also check out how thick his eyebrows are, after they've been shaped. There's no way that his chest doesn't sprout hair. Free Country has one of the ugliest models in their ads and he's not helped by the fact that he's apparently borrowing Donna Mills' fall 1984 hair style. One that looked foolish even on her and was quickly abandoned before winter.

Kat: What about the guy in the Prada ad?

Rebecca: Ick! He looks like he's on psychotropics but hasn't taken them in days. Look at his eyes, what's going on there?

Kat: Check out the All My Children actor, I don't watch the show, it says in the ad for Hathaway shirts that he's on All My Children.

Rebecca: Too much lipstick and he looks like such a Republican.

Dona: Jim likes Jennifer Jason Leigh. She's in a photo and she looks really good.

Rebecca: I didn't even recognize her. "Romanov Holiday" makes Romanov look like it's populated by ugly gay porn performers. What is it? Bel Ami that puts out those videos? Silence. Total silence. I guess I'm the only one who's ever watched two men get it on. (Laughing) Prudes.

Jim: I just want it noted, that if I brought up sports, I would be crucified.

Ava: The difference is, people will laugh at Rebecca and Kat's jokes. They are intentionally being silly. You will take it so seriosly, the sports page and your eyes will glaze over and everyone will be bored. With Rebecca and Kat's commentary, people won't be bored. Some may be offended, some may laugh, but they won't be bored.

C.I.: Ty, did you get to speak?

Ty: Ava farmed the Style section out to me. Anti-smoking groups are in a tizzy that candid, unplanned photos of actors like Olsen twin Mary-Kate are showing up with them smoking. No one says the obvious, "Get a life." This isn't someone posing for a photograph with a cigarette. This is someone going about their own lives and being pursued by parazzi. "Did Success Spoil Tab Hunter?" asks the main story. Hunter's got a book out and is no longer playing coy about being gay.

Rebecca: I bet he'd know the gay porn company that always uses the Eastern European men!

Ty: Strangely enough, that's not mentioned in the article.

C.I.: Do they mention his relationship with Anthony Perkins.

Ty: That is noted. He says Rock Hudson was "Not my type" and he never had sex with him. He says the studio system protected him from being outed in the old days even though he was busted at a gay party.

C.I.: The infamous pajama party documented by Confidential.

Ty: They mention that. What is it?

C.I.: A scandal mag popular in the fifties. Think LA Confidential, the film. When he discusses the studio system saving his ass, does he mention the sacrificing of others that the savior of one required? Was it Rory Calhoun who was sacrificed to keep Tab "straight"? I forget.

Ty: No mention of that name. He says the studio system's policy on gays was "Don't complain, don't explain."

C.I.: He's trying to be Katharine Hepburn and failing miserably. "Never complain, never explain." But someone was sacrificed for Tab to remain "straight." Jack Warner did a trade off. I believe it was Rory Calhoun but I'm tired.

Ty: John Waters says the public didn't know because they weren't aware of what gay was and that Liberace was, hold on, let me read it. "The public didn't know what gay was. Newspapers wouldn't print the rumors. Liberace sued a newspaper and won."

C.I.: That was in England, again I'm tired. And required Liberace lying under oath and required England's laws on defamation which are much looser than what we have in the United States.

Ty: It talks about how he couldn't break through as an actor but Anthony Perkins did and left him behind.

C.I.: Uh-huh. That's interesting.

Jess: I sense a biting of the tongue.

C.I.: That's a quote from Hunter, or the writer is speaking with no crediting of where it's coming from?

Ty: It's the writer. He compares Hunter to Pichnocio wanting to be a real boy.

C.I.: Which is the problem Perkins had repeatedly. Their relationship began after Perkins was a name. It's a pretty little narrative, sure to tug at the heart strings, but it isn't, in fact, true.

Rebecca: See, there was a point to my Bel Ami joke! I was setting things up for the Tab Hunter story.

Mike: In the business section, Laura Holson asks, "Has the sky stopped falling at Disney?"

C.I.: And let me guess, she kisses Robert Iger's ass again. The Times treats Iger as though he were Ray Stark in the seventies. They're the only ones seeing him as powerful because they still don't grasp the area they're covering. He's bland, he's boring, he's their kind of guy. He mixes well on Wall Street but he's one of countless "money men" and he is to power as Geffen is to weak.

Jim: Why?

Ava: He's a nobody. He has no heat. He has a position. Big deal, execs come and go. He's not Robert Evans or anyone who's a dynamic personality that you'd want at a dinner party.

C.I.: Exactly.

Ava: He's boring with mind numbing stories and no one would want to be seated next to him. Disney will continue to fall or it will rise in spite of him, not because of him. The people under him will be the ones with the heat if there is success and you'll see that when they jump ship.

C.I.: There's no loyalty at Disney, it died with Frank Wells.

Ava: You know who he is? He's John Roberts.

C.I.: That is so perfect. He truly is. He's bland, boyish, with no real opinion he'll cop to and he creeps people out. He wants to act the boy scout and thinks that will consolidate a power base. But there's no character there and there's no story there, horror or otherwise, so when the fall comes, it will be Frank Price all over again. Let's wrap this up. The only thing of interest I found in the paper was Craig Smith's article "Even in Iraq City Cited as Model, Rebuilding Efforts Are Hobbled." Billie's e-mailed about another story. She's not questioning it, she wants to use it refute an article in another paper. She's hunting that down and if she can find it, we'll note it here. Otherwise we're done with the Times. Dona, you want to give a rundown on the status of The Third Estate Sunday Review?

Dona: We have one feature which is mainly illustrations that's not going up. Ditto Ava and C.I.'s review of The War At Home.

Ava: If it doesn't go up before the show comes on tonight, we loathe the show. Do yourself a favor and ignore it. Our final sentence is "Pray. Pray very hard." Which I'll offer to demonstrate that we have written the review.

Dona: We also have our editorial and it won't post. We haven't done the note to the readers because we like to link to the pieces in that note. We're all tired and will be hitting the beds. Check later this evening and if it won't go up at that site, we'll try to reconscrust it here.

Jim: Ava and C.I. did their review outside Blogger and transposed it so they could post their review here at any time.

C.I.: Which we could do but it's a Third Estate Sunday Review feature and we'll try to let it go up there. Also note, interview with community member Maria at The Third Estate Sunday Review. That piece is up so heads up to members. And the e-mail address for this site is

Note, that Dallas has found the link to the post where we addressed Alan Wolfe's reviewing in December.

Here are the offending paragraphs that the Times can't find the error in:

Brock's previous book, ''Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative,'' his 2002 mea culpa for gutter-shouting from the conservative side, was engaging and informative. Too bad, then, that he now seems blinded by the left. ''The Republican Noise Machine'' is as petty in its discussion of people as it is sloppy in its handling of facts. Unable to keep an insult in his quiver, Brock gleefully announces that the Catholic theologian Michael Novak had his thesis rejected at Harvard and that the political scientist Abigail Thernstrom did not get academic tenure, factoids that are either irrelevant (anyone familiar with the academy knows what thesis committees can be like) or wrong (Thernstrom rejected a full-time academic career).
Brock also fails to grasp the conflicts that have emerged within right-wing punditry since he served in its ranks. Chris Matthews was not a supporter of the war in Iraq and Bill O'Reilly has serious questions about it. Lou Dobbs now sounds like Dick Gephardt when he discusses outsourcing. Andrew Sullivan's position on gay marriage is anathema to many other conservatives. Conservatives may well have shared a party line when they were out of power, but now that they have an actual president advancing their worldview, their ideas suddenly have consequences -- and turmoil is the inevitable result. Libertarians attack Bush's statism; fiscal conservatives, his big spending. This kind of behavior among liberals is called political suicide.